Is It Illegal to Threaten Violence in MN?

Yes, in Minnesota, it is illegal to make a threat of violence against another person. The law, which was previously referred to as terroristic threats, provides that not only can someone face imprisonment and/or fines for threatening violence, but they can also be criminally penalized for purposely terrorizing others or displaying a replica firearm.

Let's explore the conduct covered by Minnesota Statutes § 609.713, examples of criminal threats, and the penalties that a court can levy upon a conviction for the offense.

What Constitutes a Threat of Violence in Minnesota?

The Minnesota law concerning threats of violence enumerates three ways a person may be prosecuted. Under subdivision 1 of the statute, criminal charges may be levied when a person threatens to commit a crime of violence against another. The threat may be made directly or indirectly, and the person who made it must have intended to terrorize another, cause a building vehicle or facility to be evacuated, or cause a serious inconvenience.

A crime of violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • First-, second-, or third-degree murder
  • First-, second-, or third-degree assault
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • False imprisonment
  • First- or second-degree murder of an unborn child
  • First- or second-degree assault of an unborn child
  • First-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct
  • First-degree burglary
  • Felony harassment or stalking

The second subdivision of Minnesota Statutes § 609.713 provides that a person makes a threat of violence if they tell another that an explosive or incendiary device is at a specific location. Their intent for doing so must have been to terrorize someone else. Note that the device need not have to be at the place they said it was. Merely making such a communication is enough to trigger prosecution under this statute.

The third way a person may be charged with making a threat of violence is by brandishing a replica firearm in a threatening manner, causing the other person to feel terror or recklessly disregarding the risk of causing such a result. A replica firearm includes a BB gun or any device that appears to be a firearm but does not meet Minnesota's definition of a dangerous weapon.

A few examples of violent threats include:

  • Displaying a sign offering a reward for the apprehension and delivery of a specific individual (when the person displaying the sign has no lawful authority to make such a request)
  • Sending a message to someone threatening to shoot or kill them
  • Exhibiting what appears to be a gun while shouting at others in a public place
  • Asking someone if they want to die while appearing to reach for a weapon

How Much Jail Time Can You Get for Threatening Someone?

In Minnesota, the punishments for threatening someone depend on the specific conduct involved in the offense.

Threatening a crime of violence against another is penalized by:

  • Up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Communicating to terrorize:

  • Up to 3 years of imprisonment and/or
  • Up to $3,000 in fines

Displaying a replica of a firearm:

  • Up to 1 year of incarceration and/or
  • Up to $3,000 in fines

Under Minnesota Statutes § 628.26, the State has up to 3 years after the alleged offense to prosecute.

If you were accused of threatening another, speak with one of our experienced Minneapolis lawyers today. Reach out to Brockton D. Hunter P.A. by calling (612) 979-1112 or submitting an online contact form.